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Jean Mansfield's feta cheese making instructions - 20 November


Preparation

The most crucial factor in home cheese making is cleanliness.

All surfaces and equipment must be sanitized. I use a weak solution of bleach. 1 tablespoon of household bleach (4 percent chlorine) dissolved in 8 litres of cold water. You can use a weak solution of iodine or Milton instead.

When it comes to cleaning, I use the two-bucket system. 
Half fill one red and one blue bucket with cold water.  Add a tablespoon of bleach to the red bucket.
Every utensil goes into the blue bucket and then the red bleach bucket and then into your milk or curds.

What you need

I use plastic utensils as they don't damage the curd when you stir.
You will need a good thermometer. Ideally on that has a stainless steel probe and a large digital readout.  (The probe is also useful for aerating your blue cheeses)
Two stainless steel pots.
6 litres of fresh cow's milk
Dried cheese starter
Lipase
Rennet
Water

Now you're ready to make feta!

Method

- Place cows' milk into your centre pot.
- Pasteurize by heating to 68 degrees Celsius for 2 minutes.
- Cool the milk to 37 degrees Celsius ready for the cheese starter.
- Add 1/2 tsp freeze dried cheese starter directly to the milk and gently stir for about a minute. TCC3 is a bacteria that adds flavour to the milk
- Add a pinch of lipase, this is an enzyme that also adds flavour (it is optional but will give a zing to the finished cheese.  If you like parmesan add the lipase)
- Leave the milk for 30 minutes for the starter to begin working.
- Add 1/4 tsp rennet to a tablespoon of cooled boiled water and add this to the milk. 
- Stir it in for about a minute. 
- Put the lid on and leave to set for 1 hour.
- Try to keep the temperature at 37 degrees Celsius so you might need to add some warm water to your outside pot.
- Test the curd by cutting directly across the centre.  If it cuts cleanly it is ready.
- Cut the curd into 2 cm cubes (Roughly the size of a thumb nail)
- Make vertical cuts in one direction and then turn and cut across so the top looks like a checkerboard
- And make horizontal cuts on top of the lines that you have already cut.
- Give the curd a swing.
- Leave to sit for 1/2 an hour and then stir once or twice very gently. (Like folding egg whites)
- Repeat twice more (This takes an hour and a half altogether)
- Sanitize your molds.
- Ladle the curds into the moulds.
- Leave to sit for 1 hour.
- Turn the moulds over.
- Leave in the moulds on the kitchen bench overnight.
- Next morning unmold and place in brine.
- Leave for 21 days in the brine.
- If you haven't eaten your feta in 21 days cut it into cubes and place in herbed olive oil.

It will keep in the oil for 6 months or more.

Supplies for cheesemaking are available from www.cottagecrafts.co.nz


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